Make the most of blackberry season
In the modern world a blackberry is more likely to be regarded as a smartphone than a fruit. In autumn though, the brambles lining cycle paths and railways are laden with the berries. They are the easiest form of foraging and an abundant and free source of delicious and nutritious sweetness.
Blackberries are the ultimate seasonal produce, so don’t be ashamed to stockpile them during those few weeks when they are available. Get the whole family collecting. Blackberries freeze very well, although be sure to wash or blanch them before storing.
Baking with blackberries
The tried-and-tested recipes for blackberries usually involve a crumble or a pie. Apples are the obvious accompaniment to the berries but in fact pears work just as well, if not better. Lightly soften the pears with a little sugar. Add the raw blackberries to a pie dish and cover with crumble topping. Bake for around 20 minutes or until the crumble topping is golden.
If you have an abundance of berries, a blackberry jam or bramble jelly is an ideal way of ensuring the flavours linger until the following year. Bramble jelly is particularly good with roast meats, venison or cold pork pies. A rough rule of thumb for jams involves using two parts sugar to one part fruit, although you can adjust this slightly if you have very sweet and ripe berries.
The key is to ensure that the seeds are removed before putting the jam into jars, although you need to cook the berries with the seeds to extract the pectin that will make the jam set. Use a muslin or jelly bag to strain the mixture before putting it back on the heat to reduce on a rolling boil.